UK: High Court to hold multi-day hearing on Shell's legal liability in ongoing Niger Delta pollution case
"Niger Delta communities back in High Court to fight Shell’s further attempt to delay legal case", 24 July 2023
There are several issues that the court will be asked to determine, including:
- Whether Shell can delay and limit the scope of the claims and avoid legal scrutiny of the parent company, Shell plc’s, actions including by delaying Shell plc’s disclosure obligations.
- Whether the claimants can add to their legal claims details of over 80 further Shell spills which impacted their communities.
- Whether the claimants are entitled to seek to hold Shell liable for their alleged violations of their rights under the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights. The claimants argue that their fundamental rights, including their right to a clean and healthy environment, have been breached by the devastating oil pollution in the Niger Delta.
Despite the first of these cases being filed in 2015, the claims are still at an early procedural stage after Shell spent years trying - unsuccessfully - to stop them proceeding in the UK. In 2021 the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that there was a ‘good arguable case’ that Shell plc, the UK parent company, were liable for the pollution affecting the two communities and that the cases should be heard in London.
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, Shell is now arguing that there should be a full trial against Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, which would take several years, before Shell plc are subjected to the court’s processes. This would mean that Shell plc would have no disclosure obligations and would not be under legal scrutiny until after the trial relating to its Nigerian subsidiary was completed.
The international team of lawyers at law firm Leigh Day which has represented the Niger Delta communities in their eight-year battle to hold Shell to account, say Shell’s applications are part of the company’s attempts to delay legal accountability...